Sunday, 3 July 2011

La Provence



      When the local newspapers weren’t full of financial worries, layoffs at fruit packing plants and the crystallized fruit factories, and falling prices for the farmers, they were reporting a series of local girls who had gone missing.
        We heard the talk and saw the headlines, but we managed not to register any of it. We took refuge in our foreign status, bound up in our own little world, where nothing could touch us. 
                                                        
                                                                      From The Lantern

The idea of the blissful isolation – or ignorance – experienced by foreigners in a country not their own is neatly summed up in this picture of our local newspaper, La Provence. It is one of the “gifts from the house”: found objects we have kept and made part of the place again. I’ve cropped the picture so that you can’t tell, but it’s framed in pine and hangs in the kitchen.

The artist has taken the front page and used it as the canvas for a rather good painting of Lourmarin on the southern slopes of the Luberon ridge. It seems to have been intended as a wedding present, and we assume that Lourmarin was either where the wedding took place (or did it?) or where the couple lived. The date on the masthead is November 2000.

This picture was found in the bergerie, the guest cottage across the track, sealed in behind a fabric bed headboard that we dismantled before we gave the room a new coat of paint. It seems odd that it was sealed in – was the present unwanted? Did one of the newly-weds hate it? Or had it never been given, but left by the artist, who decided not to hand it over, after all? Such are the delicious questions that arise when you find strange objects unexpectedly – tiny glimpses into other lives to which you will never know the answers.

So there it is, the out-of-date newspaper on which any news has been over-painted with an idyllic scene. It seems to stand for that feeling you have on holiday when you can give yourself space to be rather than continuously worrying about day-to-day responsibilities, which includes knowing what all those media reports say.

11 comments:

Richard said...

Lourmarin, la Provence, ses secrets... Je suis très surpris et en même temps heureux de constater comment, toi, Deborah, Américaine, tu t'investis dans la connaissance de la région étrangère que tu as choisie. Bien sûr, rien n'est simple. Mais si tous les étrangers comme toi, ou amoureux de la Provence, pouvaient s'unir pour faire avancer les mentalités, alors, oui, le Lubéron pourrait être le plus beau pays du monde.
Bon dimanche, Deborah!et bravo!

MuMuGB said...

Blissful isolation in Provence...I envy you Deborah: it would never happen to me. Born and bred in Provence, I grew tired of having everybody knowing what everybody else was up to and eventually I escaped. Having said that, it is really funny that you found some old French newspapers when I found some old English newspapers in my attic. Maybe I am your French mirror image?

BookBelle said...

Deborah: I plum in the middle of your deliciously, perfectly, lovely book at the moment (Thanks to my lucky win) and I'll tell you that I am certain it's going to be one of my favorites of 2011 and probably an all-timer.

What a wonderful storyteller you are!

Belle

Lisa Erin said...

What an interesting find...does truly make one curious about the back story.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I think that you are quite candid in your thoughts and profound in your perceptions about living in a country not quite your own. I feel confident that you in particular feel ownership of the ups and downs of your Provence.

What an interesting discovery, made by your attention to detail. I wonder how many people would have seen this small piece of art and tossed it as having been 'only' painted on a newspaper... or would have overlooked it entirely. What a treasure!

Bises,
Genie

...louciao... said...

What an intriguing discovery! It's like something out of a mystery novel. Life imitating art. Brilliant idea to have it framed. "A gift from the house"--what a gracious and symbolic welcome.

vanessafrance said...

What a wonderful find! You could speculate endlessly about it and why it was hidden as it was. Sounds like material for a novel to me...

Our house had already been restored some years before we bought it, so there were no such interesting finds. I bet they had all been thrown away by the people who restored it.

Leovi said...

Really interesting finding this beautiful, very exciting ... and the amount of conjecture that we can make from it. I wish you a happy summer.

Deb said...

Maybe it was from an old lover, who painted the scene from their only tryst. She was unable to part with it so hid it behind the headboard in the cottage where she frequently laid on the bed and thought of him with longing.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

What a treasure! It reminds me of Muriel's old English newspapers :)

Blu said...

I live in a half world, where I understand half of what is going on in France, via my French tv & half of what is happening in the English speaking world via the Internet. So this post strikes a chord with me!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...